Saturday, January 17, 2015

"Theology of the Body" - a traditional view

Don Pietro Leone has published a book, The Family under Attack(2014), offering a critical review of the new "Theology of the Body" celebrated throughout the Catholic world.

A portion of Leone's book is published online by kind permission of the author: "'Theology of the Body' explained - a Traditional Catholic view" (Rorate Caeli, January 17, 2015). While the substance of the author's thesis is argued more thoroughly than one may easily summarize, here are some excerpts from his conclusions:
In fine, we see clearly that Theology of the Body is a personalist, phenomenological system. As such it is concerned with the subjective realm, such as the person and love, and neglects the objective realm, be it Catholic dogma (as with the doctrine that the primary end of sexuality and marriage is procreation or as with the distinction between the natural and supernatural orders,) or be it the perennial or scholastic theology, philosophy, or morality (as with the distinctions between the different forms of love). The outcome is a shift from the virtue of love to the passion of love, from supernatural love to natural love, and in the final analysis from sanctity to sexuality.

In this lack of catholicity, Theology of the Body, although presented as the praise of Catholic conjugal love, becomes instead a paean to Eros[10], with greater resonance for the world than for the Church. As such it constitutes certainly one of the more remarkable fruits of the much vaunted rapprochement [11] between the Church and the World[12].

[10] if one did not know that it was composed by the Pope himself, one might perhaps be excused for ascribing it to a personalist philosopher influenced by Christianity, such as Max Scheler.
[11] or aggiornamento
[12] see chapter 6 of the present book. There we illustrate how sexual love is the main theme hymned by the World – although characteristically in the form of fornication.




Even though it may be criticizing the legacy of SJPIITG, I have to say... "Theology of the Body for Teens (Student Workbook)" [!!] ... "Called to Love: Approaching John Paul II's Theology of the Body" ... it all sounds every bit as contrived as the most forced of Evangelical ministry emphases. And to start bandying about such stuff, after two thousand years of Catholics have been faithfully and successfully living Christian lives that have incorporated healthy marital sex ... all agains a cultural backdrop where pop star Madonna's video porn now seems tame compared to the newer fare. Its fun and a bit quaint when the pope dons shades a la Bono, or wears a crazy hat. But when entire teaching arcs are aimed at cultural windmills, I don't know. As an Evangelical I certainly appreciated Franics Schaeffer's efforts at relevancy [Had to remind myself that he attempted his own foray into environmentalism with "Pollution & The Death of Man"]. I know it will increasingly place me at a table for one to say this, but Catholics so often seem wildly, no, almost euphorically, to immerse themselves in unnecessarily bad judgement calls and bad taste. Fro me, having to process TOB preening seems kind of like enduring forcing watchings of Gloria Steinem and Fr. Robert Baron videos on side-by-side screens while downing a bag of Wawa pork rinds.